• Two videos and six stories were added to the Multimedia page on January 6, 2009.
• Nine stories and four videos were added to the Multimedia page on December 16.
• A video was added to the Multimedia page on October 27.
• Five articles were added to the Multimedia page on October 27.
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Source: The Greeneville Sun
by Amy Rose
The year-long Andrew Johnson Bicentennial Celebration, which concluded Monday, featured a wide variety of events, from scholarly lectures and solemn wreath-laying ceremonies to birthday cakes and bobblehead dolls.
The events to commemorate the 200th birthday of the 17th president were organized by the 13-member Bicentennial Celebration Steering Committee, which held its first workshop with numerous community members in April 2007.
One of their first tasks was to create an official logo for the Bicentennial Celebration.
The first official event of the year-long celebration was its kickoff held on Johnson's 199th birthday, Dec. 29, 2007.
The kickoff included a traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Johnson's grave in the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, attended by a crowd of about 100.
The wreath-laying was followed by a birthday celebration attended by about 200 Greene Countians of all ages at the Nathanael Greene Museum.
By the end of the year, the 200th birthday celebration was attended by more than 300 partygoers, including some from other cities and states.
A highlight of the 199th birthday celebration in 2007 was the memorized oration of "Tennessee Tailor," a presentation written and performed by Daniel Luther, and conceived and directed by James-Ben Stockton.
Luther portrayed Johnson at numerous events throughout the year.
The 199th birthday celebration also featured a PowerPoint presentation about Johnson's life. The presentation, created by historian Carlos Whaley, was presented to various groups throughout the year.
Whaley and Jim Small, chief of operations of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, served as co-chairs of the Bicentennial Celebration Steering Committee.
To ring in 2008, banners promoting the year-long celebration were attached to lampposts in downtown Greeneville, where they remained all year.
On Jan. 24, 2008, Dr. Michael Toomey, an adjunct professor of history at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, presented a lecture titled "Partisan Politics in East Tennessee on the Eve of the Civil War" at Tusculum College.
Beginning in February, a series of articles on Andrew Johnson by local historian Dr. Bob Orr appeared throughout the year in The Greeneville Sun.
On Feb. 22, a program titled "Underground Railroad the Network to Freedom" was presented at Friendship Baptist Church by Barbara Tagger, program manager of the Southeast Region of the National Park Service.
On March 18, Myron "Jack" Smith, director of the Library at Tusculum College, gave a lecture on "Governor Johnson and the Gunboat Navy: Logistics, Morgan and Johnsonville" at Tusculum College.
Also in March, a new exhibit, "Andrew Johnson: Heritage, Legacy, and Our Constitution," was unveiled at the President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library at Tusculum College.
Several Civil War Living History Demonstrations were held at the Andrew Johnson Homestead throughout the year, beginning in April with Confederate soldiers "capturing" Greeneville.
Also in April, a two-day "Oh Freedom Emancipation Day Celebration" conference, sponsored by the African-American Task Force Coalition of East Tennessee, was held at the Christian Life Center of First Baptist Church.
On May 16, the movie "Tennessee Johnson," an MGM production originally released in 1943, was shown for no admission charge at the Capitol Theatre.
The Andrew Johnson bobblehead doll was unveiled this summer for the July 31 game of the Greeneville Astros. The one-time dolls that show Johnson holding a baseball bat were given to the first 1,000 fans at the game.
On Aug. 8, Emancipation Day, professional storyteller Chetter Galloway, of Atlanta, presented "Free at Last: Now Let Me Fly!" at the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County.
One of the biggest events of the year was a concert held in conjunction with Constitution Day at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.
The Sept. 17 free, family-oriented concert by the 113th U.S. Army Band from Fort Knox, Ky., was attended by a crowd of about 800.
On Sept. 18, a day-long symposium featuring historians Dr. Eric Foner, Dr. Paul Bergeron, Dr. Bob Orr and Dr. Michael Curtis was presented at Tusculum College.
The four men made presentations and debated Johnson's role in Reconstruction after the Civil War in a panel discussion moderated by Oliver "Buzz" Thomas.
On Nov. 15, William Hardy, a doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee, presented "The Old Hickory of this Age: Andrew Johnson, the Last Jacksonian?" at the Nolachuckey Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) House.
The Bicentennial Celebration concluded on Johnson's 200th birthday, Dec. 29, 2008.
A birthday party with cake and a live band was held in the parking lot area of Towne Square Shopping Center.
The party was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at Johnson's grave, highlighted by 1,500 luminaries on Monument Hill.
The celebration ended with a spectacular fireworks display launched from Hardin Park.
Monday night was wrapped up with a Recognition Ceremony at the General Morgan Inn, in which numerous volunteers and donors were recognized by the steering committee.
Related Annual Events
In addition to the special events scheduled throughout the year, the Bicentennial Celebration was incorporated into many annual events, including the Battle of Blue Springs, the Iris Festival, the Main Street: Greeneville's annual meeting, the National Park Service Founders Day, the Heritage Trust Early American Christmas Dinner, and Wreaths Across America at the national cemetery.
In addition to the bobblehead dolls, several special commemorative items, including Christmas ornaments, a calendar and a specialy-designed postal cachet, were created for the Bicentennial Celebration.
Luther, as Johnson, and representatives of the steering committee served as guest speakers throughout the year at meetings and events of several local groups.
The Bicentennial Celebration also was observed outside of Greeneville with special exhibits in Nashville and Raleigh, N.C., and a lecture in Raleigh, Johnson's birthplace.
Other steering committee members, in addition to co-chairs Small and Whaley, were: Jim Austin, of Andrew Johnson Bank; Denise Carr and LeRoy Ripley, of the George Clem Multicultural Association; Earl Fletcher, director of the Nathanael Greene Museum; Larry Henderson, of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1990; Tammy Kinser, tourism director of the Greene County Partnership; Kathy Knight, of The Greeneville Sun and Main Street: Greeneville; Nancy McNeese Monger, Greeneville alderman and former executive director of Main Street: Greeneville; Dr. Robert Orr, historian; Lizzie Watts, superintendent of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site; and Sarah Webster, Greeneville alderman.